Project Records and Staff Observations
In addition to published findings, project staff in the current DO-IT have access to specific evaluative data that are used to inform them as they develop specific interventions in current projects. For example, large bodies of documented feedback from participants in workshops and internships in earlier projects inform workshop and internship practices in current projects with respect to length, focus, interaction, supervision provided/desired, and project staff involvement with the host organization/presenter, etc. Staff observations of past and current activities are also taken into consideration. Over-arching observations of staff and partners also suggest issues to address in future activities. They include:
- people with disabilities, especially in rural areas, have little access to peers and mentors with disabilities.
- individuals face common issues as well as unique challenges related to specific disabilities.
- both academic and non-academic (e.g., self-advocacy) issues should be addressed.
- motivational activities are needed to recruit students without initial interests in fields in which they are underrepresented, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
- comprehensive preparation and retention interventions produce more positive outcomes than isolated efforts for students with disabilities.
- institutional changes are needed to make STEM fields welcoming and accessible to all students.
- activities are most efficiently implemented through cooperation between multiple organizations.
- new collaborations benefit from facilitation by project staff and initial funding for specific activities.